standards and incentives: overview » introduction

Traugott Terrace, Seattle WA - photo credit: Bill Wortley

It has been said that improved energy efficiency is our greatest
untapped energy source. As noted elsewhere in this toolkit, the building sector accounts for some 40 percent of energy consumption in the US, and residential buildings alone account for roughly 20 percent. [1] Improving the energy efficiency of buildings, then, represents one of the most promising strategies for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

While the benefits of larger-scale energy-saving measures such as installation of adequate insulation and high-efficiency windows and doors have been well-documented, these changes are unlikely to happen on their own in large volume due to added costs (real and perceived), logistical challenges, and inertia. States and localities that wish to achieve substantial reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions will likely need to enact policies and programs to catalyze action.

Click on the links below to learn more about setting standards and offering incentives for energy efficiency:

West Washington Street Homes
Energy codes, similar to traditional building codes, establish minimum requirements and guidelines for the performance of new construction and existing homes undergoing substantial renovation

David and Joyce Dinkins Gardens
Energy rating systems
and green building rating tools complement energy codes but encompass additional sustainability measures that may result in greater energy savings

Matthei Place
Point-of-sale efficiency upgrades
and audit requirements provide a mechanism for reducing energy use in existing homes when they are put up for sale

Broadway Crossing
Energy saving and emissions reduction laws
create incentives for utility companies to implement energy-saving measures, including home retrofits

Harold Washington Unity Coop
Other incentive-based programs
, including density bonuses and rebates on the purchase and installation of energy-efficient products, reward developers and residents that take steps to reduce energy consumption

[1] U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Energy Consumption by Sector, 1949-2009.